By Christopher A. Sawyer
This is no ordinary electric bike. Designed for the Wörthersee Tour, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee will be demonstrated by trial biker Julien Dupont and downhill specialist Petra Bernhard, and features a compact, low center of gravity carbon fiber frame and rear swing arm. The same material is used for the 26-in. “ultra-blade” wheels. A lithium-ion battery pack is contained within the frame itself, and is easily replaced with a charged pack on long rides if the 2.5-hour charging time is too onerous. However, these are not the bike’s most interesting features.
In “Pure” mode the e-bike is powered by the rider alone. Shift to “Pedelec” mode and the rider’s efforts are supported by the electric motor, and speeds up to 50 mph and a range of 31 to 44 miles are possible. “eGrip” mode uses only the electric motor for power, and speeds up to 31 mph are achievable. In this mode, the rider controls output using a grip-mounted shifter to configure the power output. And while this sounds pretty pedestrian (no pun intended), it’s what you can do with the computer-controlled electric motor that makes this e-bike stand out… or up.
Using a smartphone, the rider can program different “wheelie” modes that use the electronic control system to support the rider’s back-wheel biking. “Power Wheelie” mode allows the angle of the wheelie to be adjusted. “Balanced Wheelie” mode uses the electric motor to compensate for the rider’s backward and forward movements to maintain his balance. Thus, the rider can influence the bike’s speed by shifting his weight for and aft. Lean forward, and Audi’s e-bike picks up speed. Lean back, and it slows down. There’s even a “Training” mode that allows you to keep your performance constant for training purposes.
Mounting the electric motor on the lowest point on the frame and driving the bottom bracket shaft directly give the Audi e-bike an extremely low center of gravity and smoothly applies power. Maximum torque is a staggering 189.4 lb-ft, and the motor develops 2.3 kW (3.1 hp). The total weight of the electrical components is 24.25 lb, giving the bike a power-to-weight ratio of 15.43 lb/hp.
As you might expect, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee not only features Audi’s signature LED lighting, the seat can be lowered for tricks and stunts, and raised at the press of a button to a more comfortable level for riding. And, since it’s smartphone enabled, it uses this device to hook into the onboard computer through a wireless LAN. Cycling modes and other functions can be set using the touchscreen of the bike’s computer. Images captured by the helmet camera are uploaded to the Internet in real-time via the smartphone, and each trick performed successfully is awarded points. Awards come with the points, as to increases in the challenge level, and Internet rankings allow the rider to measure himself against friends (Facebook status reports pop up on the e-bike’s touchscreen) and rivals.